Kelvin Grady was one of the most inconsistent players on the Michigan team this year. Of course this is normal for freshman who are not the Kalin Lucas, Manny Harris and Robbie Hummels of the world. It was still gut wrenching to see Kelvin wow you with his good play against teams like Georgetown, Duke, or Iowa and then turn around and make you sick by disappearing or turning the ball over. After the break I’ll look at the positives and negatives of Kelvin’s season and what he needs to do to improve.
Shooting. Kelvin showed the ability to hit the open three point jumpshot. That’s something that no one else really could do on the team. Only Udoh and Merritt shot a higher percentage and they only took 30 3 pointers combined compared to Kelvin’s 92.
Ball handling. Overall #44 did a great job of taking care of the basketball especially as a freshman. In an all-freshman back court on a losing team he ranked 6th in conference for assist to turnover ratio with a 2.1:1 ratio. Kelvin hit some rough patches (Purdue home game) but overall he did a very good job taking care of the ball.
He’s young. Kelvin is only a freshman who didn’t really play basketball exclusively until this summer. He has some wheels and seems motivated to get better. He was noticeably frustrated early in the year and eventually got benched for CJ Lee but also gained his spot back down the stretch. If words are worth anything he is motivated to improve:
“This whole season has been tough, but it’s a wonderful thing with us being so young. It just motivates us to go in the gym this summer and work hard every day, every second, busting out butts.”
Defense. Kelvin is undersized, as everyone knew coming in, and he didn’t make up for it with his quickness on defense as I expected. I figured that Kelvin would be more of a bulldog as an on the ball defender due to his football background but he still has a ways to go in this area. Opposing guards got into the lane with ease at times against Grady this year. Grady is also a huge liability in the 1-3-1 when he gets stuck on the post man, this quite a bit this year before the 1-3-1 was shelved for the year.
Penetration and scoring. Grady needs to be more of a threat the score the basketball, and this is more than just taking (and hopefully hitting) wide open threes on the perimeter. Kelvin is not a threat to score the ball when he drives the lane so he becomes much less of an offensive weapon. Kelvin needs to develop a floater in the lane to keep defenses honest.
Fastbreak. This might be an extension of being a scoring threat but Michigan’s fast break this year was awful. I put a lot of the responsibility for this on the point guards (Grady, CJ, Merritt, and Manny too). I would expect the number of fast breaks that Michigan didn’t convert to be one of the highest counts in the Big Ten. Grady is responsible for orchestrating the break and he needs to be a threat to score on the break. How many times did Grady take the ball all the way to the hole? He’s the anti-Manny (who rarely passes) on the fast break. The whole team also has to do a much better job of keeping their spacing on the break as well.
The Kelvin Grady debate raged on this year and it seems like people either love him or hate him. Is Kelvin good enough to be the starting point guard on a contender in the Big Ten? Not right now. Is he good enough to be a solid cog in an offense with a couple pieces around him? Probably. The problem right now is that Michigan doesn’t have scoring pieces around him. When you don’t have anyone to defer to you have to make plays yourself. Even when I saw Kelvin play in high school he seemed to defer to DeMarcus Grady and Justin Anyijong and be more of a game manager than someone who was in control of the game.
Where does Kelvin fit in for next year? The question here is where Manny and Laval Lucas-Perry end up. In an optimal world I think Lucas-Perry starts at the point guard once he is eligible. Grady would back up LLP while LLP slid to the two or sat.
He needs to keep working on learning to score in the lane. He has the quickness to get in there but those over the head passes have to stop as well. If Kelvin can develop a mid range game he could be a very good player, otherwise I think he is stuck as being a perfect backup PG to manage the game.
When you look at some of the starting point guards who excel in the Big Ten you realize Kelvin has a ways to go before he is anything like a Butler, Lucas, Hughes, Basset, or Moore type of player that Michigan needs out of their lead guard.